The effects of 8 cm thruster main and neutralizer cathode operating conditions on cathode orifice plate temperatures were studied. The effects of cathode operating conditions on insert temperature profiles and keeper voltages are presented for three different types of inserts. The bulk of the emission current is generally observed to come from the downstream end of the insert rather than from the cathode orifice plate. Results of a test in which the screen grid plasma sheath of a thruster was probed as the beam current was varied are shown. Grid performance obtained with a grid machined from glass ceramic is discussed. The effects of copper and nitrogen impurities on the sputtering rates of thruster materials are measured experimentally and a model describing the rate of nitrogen chemisorption on materials in either the beam or the discharge chamber is presented. The results of optimization of a radial field thruster design are presented. Performance of this device is shown to be comparable to that of a divergent field thruster and efficient operation with the screen grid biased to floating potential, where its susceptibility to sputter erosion damage is reduced, is demonstrated.